International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 94–100 | Cite as

Inappropriate anticholinergic drugs prescriptions in older patients: analysing a hospital database

  • Laurie Ferret
  • Gregoire Ficheur
  • Emeline Delaviez
  • Michel Luyckx
  • Sophie Quenton
  • Regis Beuscart
  • Emmanuel Chazard
  • Jean-Baptiste BeuscartEmail author
Research Article


Background Although many anticholinergics are inappropriate in older patients, the prescription of these drugs in a hospital setting has not been extensively studied. Objective To describe prescriptions of anticholinergic drugs in terms of frequency, at risk situations and constipation in hospitalized, older adults. Setting Using a database from a French general hospital (period 2009–2013), we extracted information on 14,090 hospital stays by patients aged 75 and over. Methods Anticholinergic drug prescriptions were automatically detected, with a focus on prescriptions in three well-known at-risk situations: falls, dementia, and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cases of constipation that might have been causally related to the administration of anticholinergic drugs were screened for and reviewed. Main outcome measure Prescriptions with a high associated risk of anticholinergic related adverse reactions. Results Administration of an anticholinergic drug was detected in 1412 (10.0%) of the hospital stays by older patients. At-risk situations were identified in 413 (36.5%) of these stays: 137 (9.7%) for falls, 243 (17.2%) for dementia, and 114 (8.1%) for benign prostatic hyperplasia; 78 (18.9%) of these 413 stays featured a combination of two or three at-risk situations. Cases of constipation induced by anticholinergic drug administration were identified in 188 (13.3%) patient stays by using validated adjudication rules for adverse drug reactions: 85 and 103 cases were respectively evaluated as “possible” or “probable” adverse drug reactions. Conclusions Anticholinergic drugs prescription was found in 10.0% of hospitalized, older patients. More than one third of these prescriptions occurred in at-risk situations and more than one in ten prescriptions induced constipation.


Anticholinergic drugs Elderly France Inappropriate prescribing Hospital pharmacy 



We sincerely thank all the physicians who participated in the PSIP project in their respective departments, notably Dr. Pascale Leurs, Dr. Olivier Brimont, Dr. Zine Baarir, and Dr. Philippe Lecocq. We thank Professor Eric Boulanger for critically revising the manuscript. We thank Renaud Perichon and Julien Soula (health informatics engineers) for their valuable assistance.


This study was funded by the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (FRM). The FRM did not influence study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation or presentation of the results.

Conflicts of interest

None of the authors have conflicts of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

11096_2017_554_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (183 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 182 kb)
11096_2017_554_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (189 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 189 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EA 2694 - Santé publique: épidémiologie et qualité des soinsUniv. LilleLileFrance
  2. 2.Department of Medical Information and ArchivesCHU LilleLilleFrance
  3. 3.Department of PharmacyDenain General HospitalDenainFrance
  4. 4.EA GRITA –Laboratoire de pharmacologie, pharmacocinétique et pharmacie cliniqueUniv. LilleLilleFrance
  5. 5.Department of GeriatricsCHU LilleLilleFrance

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